You should hear about estrogen and progesterone over and over again. Well, these are the hormones for femininity par excellence. Because? Because they accompany us, even at fluctuating levels, since the beginning of menstrual periods until menopause.
Estrogen and progesterone are also hormones involved in the typically female characteristics, both physical and behavioral and in the menstrual cycle. Ah! And in premenstrual syndrome, when we suddenly change our mood. And during pregnancy.
So let’s delve into the world of female hormones and learn a little more about the impact of estrogen and progesterone on a woman’s life cycle.
Estrogen (or estrogens, since there is more than one type) is the hormone that is related to the development of female characteristics and the reproductive cycle.
There are three types of this hormone that are produced by androgens (male sex hormones): oestradiol, oestron and oestronol. androgens (male sex hormones).
When separated into small amounts, female behavior becomes more “masculine”.
The typically feminine characteristics that begin to appear during puberty are developed thanks to estrogen. This hormone is responsible for breast growth, the development of vaginas, the growth of the uterus, which can double or even triple in size, for the accumulation of fat in the hips and thighs, the appearance of the hair in the armpits and the area of shame, etc.
At childbearing age
Estrogen plays a key role in the reproductive cycle. This hormone is important for the release of an egg from the ovaries every month and also for thickening of the uterine mucosa (endometrium) to accommodate a fertilized egg. This hormone therefore prepares for ovulation and possible pregnancy.
Over the years, the body gradually stops producing estrogens. This process of decreasing estrogen production to very low levels can take months or even years.
During this process, egg storage also decreases, which in turn results in a reduction in ovulation, menstruation and pregnancy.
The decrease in estrogen levels has overwhelming effects on women: insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, vaginal dryness, urinary problems, loss of sexual interest, the so dreaded “hot flashes” and others. This phase is called the peri-menopause, which will give rise to the menopause.
Menopause begins after a year without a woman having menstrual periods. Oestrogen production stops completely, which has harmful effects on bone and heart health. These effects are long-lasting and are translated into an increased risk of fractures and cardiovascular events.
Progesterone is a steroid hormone that, like estrogen, is produced from puberty. This hormone is mainly produced in the ovaries and acts on the woman’s body and prepares her for a possible pregnancy.
After ovulation, progesterone is excreted to prepare the endometrium to receive the fertilized egg. If fertilisation and pregnancy occur, progesterone levels are maintained. Otherwise, hormone levels decrease and allow for menstruation. It is the sudden decrease in progesterone levels in the second half of the menstrual cycle (when pregnancy does not occur) that can cause premenstrual syndrome.
It is also a key hormone for maintaining a pregnancy
Progesterone deficiency causes amenorrhea (no menstruation). Many women with fertility problems or who suffer from recurrent miscarriages have reduced levels of progesterone.